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The average human inhales more than two gallons of air per minute, over 2,900 gallons a day — that's about 145 times the amount of gas in the average car's tank. Depending on what is in that tank, a single car’s emission contribution affects the health of hundreds of people daily. Air pollution is more than just an environmental problem. It’s a major health risk that impacts both current and future generations.

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1. Types of Air Pollutants

Particulate matter, PM, is one type of air pollutant. These airborne particles are by-products of certain physical and chemical processes. Coarse particulates, PM10, have a diameter smaller than or equal to 10 microns. This is about the size of a grain of talcum powder. Fine particulates or PM2.5 are key indicators of significant air pollution and are equal to or smaller than 2.5 microns, which is the approximate thickness of spider web silk. PM10 generally causes upper respiratory issues, while fine particulates are small enough to get much deeper into the body.

air pollution particulate matter xPACIFICA / Getty Images
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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.